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Samuel Johnson

6 of 50 portraits of Samuel Johnson

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Samuel Johnson

by William Cumberland Cruikshank, and James Hoskins
plaster cast of bust incorporating death-mask, 1784
24 1/2 in. (622 mm) high
Given by Royal Literary Fund, 1969
Primary Collection
NPG 4685

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  • Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.

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Current affairs

Theatre proprietor and postal reformer John Palmer runs the first mail coach in England, between Bristol and London. A three day journey is now completed in 16 hours.
Commutation Act reduces punitive duties on tea to combat smuggling.

Art and science

Aeronaut James Sadler makes the first hot air balloon flight in Britain, from Oxford to Woodeaton.
Chemist Henry Cavendish's paper Experiments on Air reveals the composition of water.
Writer Samuel Johnson dies.
Joshua Reynolds succeeds Allan Ramsay as Painter to the King.

International

Thomas Jefferson's Land Ordinance passed by the United States' Continental Congress, coming into effect the following year. It allows for the sale of land in the largely unmapped west of the country.
Britain receives its first bales of cotton from the United States since before the War of American Independence.
William Pitt's India Act creates a Board of Control to oversee the affairs of the British East India Company and centralise power.

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